Hoeven Meets with Veterans Affairs Secretary Nominee, Senator Expects Confirmation

Presses McDonald to Ensure Veterans Greater Access to Health Care and Long Term Care Services Close to Home

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week met with Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Nominee Robert McDonald to press for his support to allow veterans more options for health care and long term care (LTC) services in their home communities. As a veteran, graduate of West Point and retired CEO of Proctor & Gamble, McDonald has the military and business experience that will help him reform the VA, Hoeven said, and he expects McDonald to be confirmed in the coming days.
  • More Choice to Access Health Care Services Closer to Home Hoeven has also been working to address the challenge faced by some veterans of having to travel long distances for services that are readily available in their communities. In June, Hoeven helped lead the Senate effort to pass bipartisan legislation to reform the VA and ensure that veterans receive timely care. That meant in part allowing veterans to receive care from the doctor or provider of their choice if the VA cannot schedule an appointment for a veteran within 14 days or the veteran resides more than 40 miles from any VA Medical Center (VAMC) or Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC). The bill is currently being conferenced with House-passed legislation.
  • More Choice to Access Long-Term Care Services Locally – Hoeven last month organized a bipartisan letter signed by 43 senators pressing the VA to finalize a rule that would authorize the agency to enter into agreements with additional LTC providers expanding the availability of these services for veterans. The rule will give veterans more options to access nursing home, hospice and respite care facilities in their local communities. A copy of the letter can be found here

Currently, the VA is authorized to enter into agreements with LTC providers enabling them to serve veterans, but onerous federal reporting requirements have prevented many LTC facilities from admitting VA patients. As a result, only 15 of the 80 nursing homes in North Dakota currently contract with the VA. 

In contrast, the same LTC facilities contracting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have no such reporting requirements. They need only comply with federal hiring practices. The proposal would make the reporting requirements for providers serving veterans the same as they are for CMS. This means that more long-term care facilities can serve veterans, giving them more options to get services closer to home, family and friends.

“We need to provide our veterans with greater choice to receive care in their local communities when they live far from a VA medical center, hospital or nursing home,” Hoeven said. “VA Secretary nominee McDonald seems receptive to our ideas, and I believe he will work with us on these priorities to ensure our veterans receive the best care possible close to their homes.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Senator Hoeven has also worked to secure funding for the VA.